President Donald Trump took to Twitter Tuesday evening to threaten schools that don’t open in the fall. In the tweet, Trump alleges that he’s looking at pulling funding from schools that aren’t holding in-person classes by fall. As for why? The president might think that governors and mayors are keeping schools shut out of spite.
The push to reopen schools is not a surprise. The administration’s response to the virus has put Trump under fire. During a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Trump infamously claimed that he felt as though doing more COVID testing was making the US look bad. He alleged that he’d pressed his advisors to slow down on testing to deflate the numbers of confirmed cases.
During an open forum at the White House on Tuesday, Trump stated “We’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools, to get them open. It’s very important. It’s very important for our country. It’s very important for the well-being of the student and the parents. So we’re going to be putting a lot of pressure on: Open your schools in the fall.”
However, many pundits have pointed out, short of simply pulling federal funding, there isn’t a lot that Trump could do about schools staying closed. Most schools are under the control of regional school boards, putting them under the jurisdiction of local governments. As such, there isn’t much the president can do to compel them to behave in certain ways.
Trump has sought to reopen the country in spite of surging COVID-19 cases. According to anonymous sources from within the White House that spoke to the Washington Post, the president’s strategy is for people to simply get numb to the death toll and case numbers. The Washington Post reports:
“White House officials hope Americans will grow numb to the escalating death toll and learn to accept tens of thousands of new cases a day, according to three people familiar with the White House’s thinking, who requested anonymity to reveal internal deliberations. Americans will “live with the virus being a threat,” in the words of one of those people, a senior administration official.”
This strategy has won Trump no supporters, according to national polls. On the national level, polls have Trump lagging behind opponent Joe Biden by some eleven points. This puts Trump’s approval rating at an historic low for his presidency.